Buying a house can be a great investment in your future financial well-being.
But unlike other financial investments, a house isn’t just a line-item on a balance sheet. When it comes to buying a home, the choice you make will shape how you live your life. The house you choose will help determine where your kids go to school, and how many hours you spend in a car or on a train each week. Your house is where your family will gather for holidays and milestone celebrations.
For most of us, buying a house can be a surprisingly emotional experience. And just like falling in love with a person, finding a home you’ll love can can be tricky. We’ve got some tips for how to find a home you’ll love, and avoid common home search heartaches in the process.
1. Avoid the Unattainable and Out-of-Reach
Falling in love with a house you can’t really afford will leave you heartbroken—and house-less.
So if you’re serious about buying a home? Taking stock of your finances and figuring out what you can really afford should be your first step.
Take a good, hard look at your budget. Pay down some credit cards. When you’re ready, get pre-approved for your mortgage financing. Do it before you start house shopping. (With Morty, the pre-approval process is quick and pretty painless.)
In most U.S. housing markets, housing inventory is pretty tight right now. So having your financing in order while you house hunt will give you a leg-up when it is time to make an offer. But your pre-approval serves another important purpose, even before offer-time. Your mortgage pre-approval gives you a hard upper limit on what you can potentially spend on a home.
Just like your married coworker or your best friend’s ex, you’ll probably run across some attractive houses that are off limits. And that’s all right. Keep your home search focused on homes within your range. You won’t waste time and risk losing your heart to a house you can’t have.
2. Only Fools Rush In…
In real life, chemistry won’t hold a relationship together without shared values, well-matched personalities, and compatible goals for the future. People who get married without understanding their future spouses are often in for a really unpleasant time. Rushing to buy the first home that makes your heart skip a beat without doing your homework can be just as unpleasant.
It might not be the most fun part of house hunting, but arranging for a professional home inspection is critical if you want to avoid costly repairs or major condition issues.
Houses that look fine may be hiding serious flaws. You may have been certain the house was perfect the moment you pulled into the driveway. But you’ll probably feel a lot less warm and fuzzy about your new place in a few months, if you find out the home you just bought needs an entirely new foundation.
3. But Don’t Wait Too Long
Nobody’s perfect. And the truth is, no house is perfect, either: especially not before you move in and make that house your home.
Patiently waiting until a home that meets your needs and fits your budget hits the market is one thing. But if you wait around for perfect, you’ll be waiting forever. And by waiting forever for perfect, you’re going to miss out on great.
When you’re looking for a home to call your own, remember that your need-to-have list is probably much shorter than your nice-to-have list. Really think about what is most important to you. If you stay laser-focused on your must-have list, and stick with your budget, you’ll be ready to act immediately when you find what you’re looking for. Being ready to act quickly and make an offer when the time comes is important. Waiting too long to make a decision can give someone else time to swoop in. And if you wait too long, you’ll be stuck telling your friends and family stories about the one that got away.